Timer Switch with two load wires?

CaroleOHAugust 8, 2014

I have purchased a switch that has a timer built which will allow my bathroom fan to run for 30 minutes and then turn off.

My handyman guy wasn't able to get it to work - it worked with turning on the light, and it worked with turning on the fan, but when he combined the light & fan wires and attached them the light flickered badly. He thinks the switch cannot handle two separate load wires.

So, I'm trying to figure out is it possible to have 1 timer type switch that can handle two load wires? I have three wires in my box - 1 power wire, 1 load wire from light, and 1 load wire from fan.

Is there a timer switch that has the ability to wire two separate load wires? If so, what would it be called?

I do not want to schedule another visit until I know if I have the right timers. It may be that I need to add another separate switch, but then I have lost control of making sure when they turn on the shower light the fan comes on too!

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bus_driver

At this point, my advice is to get a real electrician.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 2:28PM
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xyzer

rookie post....sorry!

This post was edited by xyzer on Fri, Aug 8, 14 at 15:26

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 2:56PM
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CaroleOH

I agree with you busdriver but I still need to know if the problem is the switch cannot handle the combined load wires or do I need a special switch. I don't want to pay a trip charge for an electrician to tell me I need a special or different switches.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 3:06PM
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CaroleOH

Xyzer you may want to start a new post so your question is seen by the entire forum

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 3:08PM
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greg_2010

What switch do you have?
What are the power requirements of the loads that are attached?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 3:12PM
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CaroleOH

I have two - and both didn't work.

1 - GE Countdown timer - I couldn't find the wattage this one would accommodate but it advertises it can handle bath fans, lighting etc.

2 - Maxxima 800 Watt 7 button timer - it says it can handle up to 1/4 hp fan motor.

The fan I had installed is a Panasonic 110cfm FV-11VQ5 stats are below. The light I am trying to also turn off/on with the timer switch is a standard can light but it has a CFL bulb in it. So best I can tell the wattage on both is less than 55 watts - I can't tell what hp the fan is as it doesn't say.

What I'm trying to do isn't really all that unusual is it? On the switch I'm replacing there was a spot for all three wires - 1 power and two load. It is a wide type rocker switch. The timer switch worked when he hooked up the power wire and the fan wire, or the power wire and the light wire - just couldn't twist the fan/light wire and then connect to switch without the light flickering constantly.

Do you think it was just the way he was trying to connect or do I need to find a more powerful switch. I don't have a problem with hiring an electrician to come do this work, I just want to make sure I have the right switches for them to install because I do not want to pay for a trip charge for them to tell me the switches aren't powerful enough.

Air Volume (CFM) 110 (high), 60 (low) (91 (high) and 51 (low) at 0.25" static pressure)

Noise (sones) 1.5 (high), Power Consumption (Watts) 27 (high), 18 (low) (25 (high) and 17 (low) at 0.25" static pressure)

Energy Efficiency (CFM's/Watt) 4.1 (high), 3.3(low) (3.6 (high) and 3.0 (low) at 0.25" static pressure)

Speed (RPM) 1022 (high), 803 (low) (1235 (high) and 1095(low) at 0.25" static pressure)

Current (Amps) 0.35 (0.35 at 0.25" static pressure)

Power Rating (V/Hz) 120/60

Motor Type Condenser

Type of Motor Bearing Sleeve

Thermal Fuse Protection Yes

Blower Wheel Type Sirocco

Duct Diameter (inches) 4"

Mounting Opening (inches sq.) 91/8"

Grille Size (inches sq.) 1113/16"

UL Listed for Tub/ Shower Enclosure Yes, when used with a GFCI branch circuit wire

Washington State VIAQ Code Yes

Mfg in ISO 9001 Certified Facility Yes

Super Quiet Operation Yes

Energy Star Qualified Yes

Totally Enclosed Condenser Motor Yes, for long life - Rated for continuous run

Easy Installation Yes

Rust Proof Paint Treatment Yes, on galvanized housing

Built-In Damper Yes, to prevent back draft

Contemporary Grille Design Yes

Double Hanger Bar Yes

Weight 8.8 lbs

This post was edited by caroleoh on Sat, Aug 9, 14 at 12:32

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 12:31PM
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cuffs054

Try changing the bulb to incandesent.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 6:05PM
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greg_2010

What I'm trying to do isn't really all that unusual is it?
No, it's not.

just couldn't twist the fan/light wire and then connect to switch without the light flickering constantly

I'm suspecting a bad connection. Did he use a wire nut to combine the two load wires with a pigtail to the screw on the switch or was he trying to twist the two load wires together and force the bundle around the screw on the switch?

Did the problem happen with BOTH timers?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 10:38AM
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CaroleOH

Yes it did. He was just twisting the two together and then touching them to the switch - to see if it worked before putting it all together.

You think using a cfl bulb would affect the timer vs. a standard can light bulb? I was thinking it used less watts with the cfl.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 2:18PM
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greg_2010

Ummmm. I think the "touching them to the switch" was the problem!!

Don't let that guy touch your wiring any more!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 3:35PM
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klem1

Bus said hire a real electrician and carol replied "I don't want to pay a trip charge for an electrician to tell me I need a special or different switches."

Then Klem said,does your insurance company know how you flirt with possibilities for burning your house down? I don't mean to hurt your fellings carol but it's obivious from the information you furnished,you are incapible of inserting meaningful ideas into the nuts and bolts of the job. Penny wise and pound foolish if I ever saw it.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 3:59PM
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CaroleOH

Why is ok for 10 other posts with helpful information to people who are actually trying to install switches themselves ok, but when I ask for some simple advice as to whether or not the switches I've purchased are adequate or if I need to purchase different switches BEFORE having an electrician come out I get snarky comments?

If I was personally trying to install these switches I think your comments might be valid. Why have an electrical wiring forum if answering questions is such a drain on your ability to be civil.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 11:48AM
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greg_2010

klem's response was unwarranted. There's nothing wrong with asking questions.
Bus_driver's initial response was because usually when someone comes on here asking about something that their 'handyman' couldn't figure out, it's because the handyman is clueless and unqualified and the homeowner is usually not really interested in DIY which is why they hired the handyman in the first place. So hiring an electrician is usually the end result.

Your handyman is clueless and unqualified. You never just hold connections together to 'test it out'. Twisting a wirenut onto the connection literally takes 5 seconds. And the fact that he even wanted to test it before finishing the installation is worrisome. That's basically him admitting that he doesn't know what he's doing.

Electrical connections need to be tight in order to work properly.

Electricity is not something that someone should just 'play' with. You need to know what you are doing before you do it.

So, rest assured, your timers are probably fine for the job. Just call up an electrician and get him to install them.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 9:19AM
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weedmeister

You should check to see if those timers are rated for CFL use or not. Many are rated for incandescent only. In which case you should swap out the bulb and see if that takes care of the problem.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 11:10AM
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greg_2010

She didn't post the model numbers, but if they are the ones in the following links, they are both rated for CFLs.

GE Timer
Maxxima

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 11:47AM
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CaroleOH

Thank you for your time and comments. I will take your advice and hire an electrician. This guy who came to my house had several other projects he was doing for me when I asked him to install the switches.

He told me he had been doing electrical projects for many years. Given that many homeowners DIY switch swap outs I didn't think it would be a problem. Lesson learned!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 9:56AM
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greg_2010

It usually wouldn't be a problem. It's actually a pretty simple thing to do. Which is why it's a little scary that this guy couldn't seem to do it even though he claims to have experience. But experience doesn't necessarily equal competence.

If he was working on your plumbing, I really doubt he'd just hold two copper pipes together and turn the water back on to 'test' the plumbing before he soldered it. That's sort of what he did with your electricity.

Now granted, it's possible that the temporary 'test' connection isn't the actual cause of the problem, but it's the first glaring problem that should be fixed before looking elsewhere.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 11:19AM
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